The “Fairground Theatre Company” has a mission to help new writers present their work, particularly in musical theatre. Their “Songs from the Playground” writer in 2015 is the composer Rebecca Applin, and a showcase of her songs was presented at the Landor Theatre on 6th April. The principals of Fairground were joined by students from the Musical Theatre Academy (MTA). The band was under the direction of Richard Bates with Applin herself on Cello.
On the evidence of this enjoyable evening Becky Applin is a versatile and talented writer of songs. She clearly has a great love of Musical Theatre and a talent for it – we had a selection of 15 songs from six different musicals, some in the early stages of development. She introduced the songs herself and outlined plotlines of the musicals from which they were taken. There was no dominant stylistic device discernible across the songs but all were tuneful and the contrast between them, deliberately no doubt, showed Applin’s range.
The songs for (principally) the female voice were stronger and better performed than those for the men. I particularly liked Victoria Serra’s “You will be Happy” which she sang with charm and strong musicality. She was outstanding in the other songs in which she had a lead role as well. So was Cassidy Janson who was excellent in the strongly jazz influenced “Here be Dragons” where she showed a particularly powerful lower register. “I Breathe Again”, also from the “Dragons” musical, was a strong and punchy song – and very well done, the highlight of the evening. Cassidy was also very good in the charming and evocative “Brillig” from “Jabberwocky”. Natasha Barnes performed “White Elephant Stall” from “Sex and the Village” with a twinkling confidence – she, Serra and Janson were for me the stars of the show.
The male principals were a little less convincing with, for example, occasional uncertain phrasing in the sub-Sondheimian “You are a Gentleman” from “The Devils Disciple” – not one of the stronger pieces. The 11 o’clock number “Anderson’s Return”, from the same musical, was rousingly performed by the whole company and especially by principal Stewart Clark. Echoes of “Les Mis” discernible here!
The MTA students deserve a mention. They were confident and tuneful throughout and especially in the final number “The Light of Love” where their voices blended well with the principals for a rousing finale. The band was terrific as well. This was a well-structured evening revealing a rare talent in Rebecca Applin.
Review by Paddy Briggs
Fairground Theatre Company present Rebecca Applin in Concert as part of Songs from the Playground 2015. Songs from the Playground is a one-year development programme which gives one writer the opportunity to explore their work in a safe environment, whilst having the experience of presenting new work to supportive theatre audiences.
This year’s work commences with a concert of Rebecca Applin’s writing at the Landor Theatre on 6th April, featuring songs from Sex and the Village, Jabberwocky and new pieces that are to receive their debut at the Landor. Rebecca Applin will be joined by Stewart Clarke (Assassins, Return of the Soldier), Natasha Barnes (Spring Awakening, Lend Me A Tenor, The Boy Who Fell Into A Book), Keith Ramsey (Julius Caesar, Doctor Scroggy’s War – The Globe, Billy), Victoria Serra (Love Story, Titanic, Mamma Mia), Cassidy Janson (Dessa Rose, Wicked) and an ensemble of The MTA Ambassadors to showcase her wide selection of work, before we embark on her showcase later in 2015.
Tuesday 7th April 2015